Effects of the great East Japan earthquake and Tsunami on Type I diabetic patients: Results of a questionnaire survey

Ikuma Fujiwara, Junko Kanno, Akiko Hakoda, Aki Nishii, Yutaka Igarashi

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The East Japan Great Earthquake, which occurred on March 11,2011, was an extraordinary disaster due to both the major earthquake and the subsequent tsunami. People who experienced the disaster were obliged to live under unusual conditions. We conducted a questionnaire survey of patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM), who require insulin treatment to survive, about their actions and feeling during and following the disaster. One hundred and eleven T1DM patients or their guardians who visited three hospitals in Sendai City answered the questionnaire soon after the earthquake (ages: 2-40 years; 37 of them were residents of the coastal area). The results of the survey (percentages and numbers in parentheses are for patients who lived on the coast) showed that 48 % of the subjects were at school or work when the earthquake occurred, while 30 % were at home. Eleven (16) % of the patients faced a shortage of insulin, and less than half answered that they had enough insulin. To get insulin, 24 (11) of the patients visited the hospital before their scheduled appointment, 16 (10) visited neighboring hospitals, and four (2) picked up insulin from dispensing pharmacies without prescriptions. To control their diabetes, more than 40 % of the patients decreased the dose of insulin injected, some used the same needles for multiple injections, and some decreased the frequency of measuring their BG. Many experienced a deviation of their diet (carbohydrate) and a shortage of food. The amount of exercise decreased in half of the patients. Patients got most of the information about controlling their diabetes from the television, followed by radio and newspaper, and about 10 % got their information from the internet and e-mail. There were five patients on the coast who could not get any information at all. To prepare for a disaster, it is important to keep extra insulin and other devices on hand, to ensure that there is contact between patients and hospitals, and also to form a local network of patients who can help each other during an emergency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-218
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the Japan Diabetes Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Apr


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